Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Pieces of the puzzle: Stories from EFL Thai university students' language learning motivation, experiences, and self-identities in their imagined communities

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posted on 2021-11-23, 09:06 authored by Prapunta, Sudatip

Despite the growth of English, the lingua franca of today’s world, most Thai undergraduates struggle to attain a high level of communicative skills in environments where English is a Foreign Language (EFL). This thesis explores and reinterprets Thai students’ language learning motivation, experiences, and their identity formation and development. The person-in-context relational view of motivation was used to complement Dörnyei’s theory of L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS). These frameworks were used to analyse the multifaceted aspects of individual and contextual influences on the participants’ L2 self and identity.  This study employs a research methodology with a focus on a narrative qualitative approach. Quantitative data were collected from 356 first-year students at a public and private university in Thailand and four Thai students were purposively selected. These four participants were formally interviewed three to four times about their English learning motivation and experiences. The narrative data were generated by a series of individual interviews and supplemented by stimulated recall interviews, an English diary, and other person-family-and-social artefacts. Their L2 learning motivation and experiences from school to university were presented as unique individual narratives. The interview transcripts were then analysed across the cases to create themes.  The findings indicated that the rote-memorisation, grammar-translation, and examination-orientated methods practised by their secondary and tertiary EFL teachers impacted the participants’ language learning motivation and the development of their L2 self-identities. The Thai participants prioritised speaking skills and felt highly motivated to attain communicative English for their future career. Their ideal L2 self appeared to be strengthened by their sustained efforts to communicate in English in both formal and informal learning contexts. Nonetheless, their ideal L2 self and ought-to L2 self seemed to be interconnected and worked together in their motivational system. The participants regulated themselves by using motivational strategies in association with the promotion-focused and prevention-focused instrumentality to maximise their intended effort in learning English. The inclusion of self-efficacy into the L2MSS model yields insights into how the participants actualised their self system in their motivational orientation. They pushed themselves to gain more exposure to a variety of learning experiences in both face-to-face and virtual communication in their imagined communities. By investing their effort and time in majoring in English and Business English, they envisioned themselves after graduation improving their parents’ and extended family’s social status and well-being. Their ideal L2 self and transportable identities were developed to meet Thailand’s integration within the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). For instance, two participants at a public university were able to envision themselves studying English at a Malaysian university. Narrative approaches shed light on the participants’ individual motivational orientations and the effects of these on the formation and development of their L2 self and identity in the past, present, and future. This study allows teachers and educators to understand the interplay between in-class and out-of-class learning experiences and the implication of the local, social, and global learning experiences of EFL Thai learners that may have been unexplored and unheard.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Tait, Carolyn; Gleeson, Margaret